Hours after Henry Wdowiak was killed in a horrific bus crash that shocked his Queens community on Monday, his family remembered him as loving.
“He was a good man,” his wife of nine years, Halina Kurpiewska, 64, said through a translator. “Still in shock.”
Wdowiak was walking on the sidewalk when a Dahlia coach bus slammed into an MTA bus, mounted the curb and crashed into a building. He was pinned by the bus and pronounced dead at the scene, police said.
Wdowiak came to the United States from Poland about two decades ago, having retired from the Polish military where he worked as a pilot, his family said. He was working for a building management company and recently started walking to work, bucking the bus because “it was healthier,” said Marcin Kurpiewska, 37, his stepson.
Wdowiak was described as a family man, who treated Kurpiewska’s two sons as his own. Wdowiak also has one daughter, who still lives in Poland.
“I couldn’t expect this,” Marcin Kurpiewska said, adding police had called him at about 1 p.m. to tell him about his stepfather’s death. “My knees just gave out. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet … Everybody loved him. He was one of those guys who would help without getting anything back.”
The family was “shocked that this happened,” Wdowiak’s step-nephew, Mariusz Trochimczyk, said, adding Wdowiak “was always happy, always dancing. He was into the family. We could talk to him about many, many things.”
Trochimczyk said they have been calling family members in Poland, trying to reach Wdowiak’s daughter to break the tragic news. A few months ago, he added, another tragedy had struck the family: Upon arriving to Poland for a visit, Wdowiak learned that his brother had died.
Still, before Wdowiak died, he was looking forward to things in New York. He was especially excited for a concert in Central Park he had purchased tickets to following the Pulaski Day Parade on Oct. 1, said Trochimczyk’s wife, Alexandra Trochimczyk, 33.
She said he was also looking into cruises to Alaska for the whole family to take together.
“We still have hope that he’s going to come home,” she said, alluding to the fact his death did not yet feel real. “He was so excited.”